Lawmakers are sending a bill to Governor Stitt’s desk aiming to try and prevent people with bad intentions from buying Oklahoma farmland.
The bill is an effort to combat illegal marijuana grow operations.
Attorney General Gentner Drummond says the marijuana industry is a growing problem in Oklahoma.
“We let the industry come in and populate our state with the absence of rules,” Drummond said.
“Now we wake up and we have 6,299 grow operations in Oklahoma, intelligence indicates to me that least 50 percent of these are illegal,” Drummond also said.
Drummond said the bill will start weeding out the foreign nationals buying up the land.
Under Senate Bill 212, anyone who isn’t a U.S. citizen will be prohibited from owning land, directly or indirectly, in Oklahoma unless otherwise authorized by current law, according to a press release.
When you buy land, you would have to have a court document proving to the county clerk that you’re buying the land legally and that you’re not being funded in violation of the bill or any other state or federal law.
“If you’re acquiring a piece of land you have to declare that you are not a foreign operator or not owned by a foreign entity,” Drummond said.
Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant, who introduced the bill, says it will help close loopholes in illegal land purchases.
“I have been working to stop the foreign takeover of our state by means of illegally purchasing our land,” Bullard said. “To date, they have consumed over 380,000 acres of land. Senate Bill 212 closes the loopholes they are using and adds an affidavit to the process to create a paper trail for law enforcement to shut it down.”
Rep. Justin Humphrey, R-Lane, the bill’s principal House author, said he’s proud to see it head to Stitt’s desk.
“This measure will help us crack down on this illegal foreign ownership of land in our state through straw purchasers and better protect our citizens. I’m glad to see it pass the Senate with our House amendments,” he said.
Now, the Bill just needs Stitt’s signature.
The Attorney General’s Office says it will now be up to county clerks to vet out the deeds and make sure each person purchasing land is an American.
Only in some cases will non-Americans be able to own land.
“There are exceptions to that, with interstate large agricultural companies, but the objective is to prohibit illegal aliens from buying land in Oklahoma,” Drummond said.
Drummond believes this legislation will be a landmark moment for Oklahoma.
“I think we will look back on this legislative session with all the pro-business, pro-Oklahoma anti-marijuana legislation that’s passed, and 2022, 23 will go down as a memorable year where this is the point at which Oklahoma starts winning,” he said.